How to eat and fuel your body for training with an ostomy
Q: Are there things that you would normally want to eat as part of your training for the Ironman that you find you must avoid when you have an ileostomy? What are they and why do you have to avoid them?
A: Well, I first started training for my triathlon after my surgery, so it is a bit difficult to compare. But, compared to when I did bicycle races prior to my surgery, there is not really a big difference in what I eat. The most important thing now is timing when I eat my meals because of how it affects my system.
Q: What are some differences you noticed in your diet (regarding how to fuel your body) pre-ostomy vs. post ostomy?
I feel like I have to be pay attention to the foods I’m eating so I make sure I get all important minerals in order to keep my body hydrated Before my ostomy surgery, this wasn’t something I paid attention to. Now I definitely focus more on what I eat and drink, before, during and after exercise- and in general for that matter.
Q: How often do you eat during the day during training? How do you time your meals/snacks and what is important to the timing?
Personally, I think it is essential not to eat a bigger meal just before a training session. For an early morning swim, I eat an apple about half an hour before and drink a bit of water. Before I run-no matter what time of day it is-my main meal must be eaten at least two and rather three hours prior to the run. If I am biking, it is not that critical. I can eat a meal about an hour before training. Of course, I always make a trip to the bathroom before starting my training session because training with an empty bag is more comfortable. In general, I try to stick to fluids during my training sessions. This includes gels and energy drinks. On long bike rides, I sometimes need something to eat. Here I stick to energy bars or bananas-which works well for me and doesn’t create a lot of output.
Q: Is there a particular nutrient or nutrients that you need more of during training? What foods do you eat to get those nutrients?
I pay a lot of attention to get the right amount of energy products and minerals. Hydrating and rehydrating is very important- before, during and after training. Getting protein and minerals are important after a training session. I find it important to find an energy product brand where one like the taste of the products as your going to use a lot in training for an ironman Personally, I think it’s important to find an energy product that you like because you use that a lot in ironman training
Q: What food lesson did you learn the hard way during training?
I have tried training on an ostomy where the output was watery due to what I’ve eaten the day before. This is obviously not fun-nor smart- as dehydration can easily be an issue for people with ostomies. I have had to cancel a session or two due to the same issues. So, one important lesson is not to experiment with foods that are hard to digest the day before a long or important training session-or race for that matter.
Q: What advice would you give another ostomate looking to do his or her first triathlon or endurance race?
A: Just go for it! But be sure to know how you will handle a ’situation’ in a race and have a spare kit with you or in the transition zone. Also, make sure you have tested how you react on the specific brand of energy products supplied in the race or preferably bring as much as possible of your own products.
Always use a relatively fresh ostomy application. One that needs to be changed can get loose during a run session. Luckily, I have never had any serious situations in like this. The closest thing I have experienced is ballooning while swimming.
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Note: consult your doctor before starting any rigorous exercise program